Hello? tap tap tap-is this thing on?
According to the Brown Act (§ 54952.1): ” Any person elected to serve as a member of a legislative body who has not yet assumed the duties of office shall conform his or her conduct to the requirements of this chapter and shall be treated for purposes of enforcement of this chapter as if he or she has already assumed office.” Based on case law: “When is a candidate declared elected? … when election results are known”.
This would mean that a newly-elected Board member should be treated as a member of the Board once the election is certified, even if the Board member may not have been sworn into office yet.
No Board meeting had been planned for November; however, the Board convened a meeting on November 30, 2018. The notice for that meeting did not appear on the website until the day of the meeting which is probably why few people were present. I was not notified, which I am sure everyone would agree, was not purposeful, but was merely an oversight. They probably just forgot that there was a new Board member?
One Board member greeted me on entering the room. The usual brief 20 minutes of meeting proceeded. Then came a final seven minutes by the outgoing Board member whose seat I had won through the Will and Voice of the People.
He welcomed me to the Board and wished me all the best….Not so much..
What proceeded over the next seven minutes was a vitriolic, bitter tirade ending with an exhortation to the Board to “stay strong” and reminding them that “you are four and “the cancer (he was calling me that) is one”. He also indicated that he would be in the audience to ask “the right questions that the Board wanted asked”. Those are only a couple of the highlights-no point in beating that dead horse.
I didn’t actually hear all of it at the time, because I chuckled at one of his claims. The claim was ludicrous and hit my funny bone. What can I say? Things that strike me as ludicrous can sometimes make me chuckle. He ordered me out of the meeting for “disturbing” the meeting with my chuckle and warned me to take my purse so “they wouldn’t have to steal it”. I am nothing if not cautious! I took my purse with me.
I was told by people in the audience that evening, that three people clapped at the end of this tirade. The tirade was enjoyed by some people! On the opposite end, no one stopped the show. Lest you think this must be a work of fiction in an otherwise autobiographical blog – I have the audio file of the meeting and could transcribe it word for word if I have nothing better to do. But there is enough unpleasantness in the world already-why go seeking it out?
So I would venture to say that it would be of little surprise to anyone (myself included) that when I was sworn in on December 3 and sent an e-mail notifying all the Board members that I was duly sworn in, I didn’t get a single purposeful reply (I did receive one “out of office” auto reply). I guess if you can’t (or refuse to) hear someone, they don’t exist?
When I called the General Manager to request a meeting, his response was “why do you want to meet?” Because it might be a good idea to get to know each other? It was very strange.
One Board member did call to congratulate me and kindly met me for coffee so we could get to know each other. A big shoutout to that Board member and I am very appreciative of his kindness and thoughtfulness. I am very aware of the pitfalls of the Brown Act (I have taken two seminars on the topic since being elected) – but this law is certainly not intended to be a barrier to members of a Board merely getting acquainted (as in what do you do? How many kids/grandkids do you have? etc.). Of course, the Brown Act also says that newly-elected Board members are to be treated as Board members….so there’s that.
The Brown Act affects the Board of any agency, but it also affects the public which that agency serves. Getting involved as a member of the public is a great thing and when you do, it is a very good idea to know the Brown Act. I have provided information on that below.
Here is the Official Brown Act- a more readable guide follows:
A more readable version is here: